Dozens of homeless men were turned away from an intake center in Manhattan due to a lack of available beds Monday night, according to two local advocacy groups, marking the second time this summer that Mayor Adams’ administration has violated the city’s right-to-shelter law.
In a joint statement Tuesday, the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless said they had received confirmation from the city Department of Social Services that at least 60 men were denied placement at the intake center on 30th Street and First Avenue.
Since it’s a right-to-shelter jurisdiction, the city is legally required to provide a shelter bed to anyone seeking one — meaning Monday night’s slipup broke the law. In July, Adams’ administration admitted it had violated the same law by failing to find beds in a timely manner for at least five Latin American families, hundreds of whom have arrived in New York in recent months after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in hopes of seeking asylum.
In their statement, the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless said they’re weighing legal action in light of Monday night’s episode.
“We are extremely alarmed by the frequency of these violations under this administration, and, as legally required, the city must immediately promulgate a plan to ensure that no further violations occur,” the groups said. “Any New Yorker, including an individual seeking asylum, is legally entitled to placement in a safe and decent shelter. Should the city continue to deprive our clients of this codified right, we’ll seek action from the court.”
A Department of Social Services spokeswoman would not say what happened to the roughly 60 men who were denied placement at the 30th Street intake center. The spokeswoman did say there’s an “unprecedented need for shelter services” in the city due to the waves of migrants arriving weekly.
“We have already provided shelter to thousands of recently arrived-asylum seekers, including hundreds yesterday alone, and we continue to open emergency sites citywide,” the spokeswoman said.
Legal Aid Society representatives were meeting with Social Services officials late Tuesday to discuss the matter, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The recent right-to-shelter violations could prove politically perilous for Adams.
The city only recorded one right-to-shelter violation over the course of ex-Mayor Bill de Blasio’s eight years in office. In light of Tuesday’s development, Adams’ administration has racked up nearly 70 violations in a few months.
Adams has largely blamed the crisis in the city homeless shelter system on Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has sent thousands of Central and South American migrants to New York — often without alerting local officials — after they’ve crossed into the Lone Star State from Mexico.
In an interview on NY1 last month, Adams accused Abbott of using the desperate travelers, many of whom are fleeing violence in their home countries, as “political pawns” in his beef with President Biden over immigration policy. “It’s un-American, and it’s inhumane,” Adams said.
But the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless contended in their Tuesday statement that Adams’ team shares some blame. “It is now clear that this administration simply does not have a handle on the city’s sprawling homelessness crisis,” they said.
Compounding the shelter crisis, Gary Jenkins, Adams’ social services commissioner, is facing a Department of Investigation probe over allegations that he sought to cover up the first five right-to-shelter violations in July. Jenkins has vehemently denied the allegations, and Adams affirmed earlier this month that he maintains “utmost confidence” in his social services chief.